Who are these great explorers that the children of America grow up learning about in school? The Conquistadors, as they will read in textbooks, draw pictures of, and sing songs and recite poems about, were gallant men, under sanction from the Spanish Crown, to explore a land in a far away and mystical place, one that would become known as the Americas. They are credited with colonizing a barren and savage expanse, establishing government, and thus, bringing actual civilization to a place full of untamed tribes and bloodthirsty civilizations of grandeur. These men, are celebrated and revered, and have even been given a holiday, in the form of Columbus Day, which we observe every October.
Ask any child under the age of ten, and they can recite to you, “In fourteen-hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Perhaps they are even cutting out little Nina’s, Pinta’s, and Santa Maria’s as they hum along the accomplishments of such a fascinating individual. However, what they will not learn in their schools or read in textbooks is the darker side of the Spanish exploration, one of which documented evidence exists of.
Will anyone tell you of the thousands of innocent men, women, and children murdered, tortured, and sold into slavery by Columbus? Have you ever heard of the Taino Indians? I would think not, since this magnificent hero nearly butchered them into extinction. Whoever he did not kill off intentionally by means of beheading and disemboweling, would succumb to an array of diseases which the hapless people were not immune to. Civilizations were wiped off the face of the earth for eternity by Columbus, all in the name of the Spanish Crown and spirit of exploration. This would occur because of the atrocious seafaring skills of the brilliant adventurer, a man who tried to find an easier spice route to India for trade, and ended up some 10,000 miles away in the Caribbean, which is why the Native peoples were called “Indians”.
Not only was an entire etymology created out of pure speculation and idiocy, because he thought he was where he aimed for, but he did not even land in an area we now think of as America. Had he landed in Florida, like one of his successors, the equally destructive Juan Ponce de Leon, less than ten years later, than perhaps one can argue the farce of Columbus Day should still remain in place.
This also begs the questions to be asked, “How can someone discover something that already has people living on it?” Your guess is as good as mine to why, exactly, this is possible, but for the sake of argument here, we shall disregard it. We know for a fact, based on archaeological evidence that the Vikings landed in the area that is now present-day Nova Scotia hundreds of years prior to Columbus, and may have traveled as far south as New Hampshire and Connecticut. It must have been a historically irrelevant and undignified explorer who accomplished this task, no? Think again, for it was none other than Leif Ericson, the renowned and glorified son of Erik the Red.
To further put the injustice of Columbus Day into perspective, there has now been much study devoted to the Chinese explorer Zheng-He, who may have landed in California after Ericson, but still before Columbus. Newer theories on the rise, some from prominent scholars, suggest the Knights Templar even made it to America (for many different speculated reasons), even before any of these other explorers beat Columbus to it. There is, in fact, an entire host of potential “discoverers” that came to America, none of which include the real ones, who crossed a land-bridge thousands of years before civilization, from Siberia and into Canada, before migrating to what is now the United States.
While Columbus, even with genocide on his résumé, hacked his way through jungle and human flesh alike, Leon was trying to find the mythical Fountain of Youth in Florida. When asking the native peoples of its existence, they would be tortured when they chose to not speak of the item that held no more credibility than the boogeyman that lives in a young child’s closet at night. When they lied, and pretended to know of it, they would be murdered for having told a falsehood. The eternal lose-lose situations for the natives would emerge with the Spanish, even more so than their brothers up north, who would experience similar, though not as cruel, treatment from another boatload of criminals, thieves, and murderers, known affectionately as the pilgrims.
As an aside, few will realize that the first Thanksgiving proclamation in “American history” (quotations added because it happened before our actual country was formed) was called as a celebration following the massacre of an Indian tribe, the Massasoit, whose chief, Metacomet, had his head cut off and placed on a pike, shortly before these religious practitioners of peace and tranquility dined on land freshly stolen from those who helped them to survive their first winter in Massachusetts.
It has been suggested by those defending Columbus and those who came after him that the natives were just as barbaric, and therefore, the explorers were justified in using violence against them. While a vast majority of the tribes and peoples conquered under the Spanish were warlike and shed their own share of blood, this can by no means be used as an excuse to defend those that landed on their shores. Could peace relations have been worked out? Could some kind of agreement been reached between the two parties for a sharing of resources? One would think that between all the brainpower amassed by the leaders of both sides, a less violent means of cohabitation, one other than white master and dark-skinned slave, could have been reached. But alas, the Spanish did not want diplomatic relations with the Indians; they wanted complete and utter domination of them.
This is all setting up to give us the Holy Trinity of murder and torture, but unfortunately, there are more than three. Perhaps the greatest fiend of them all was Hernan Cortez, a man who I must credit for being as cunning as he was deadly. Upon arriving in Mexico, he was greeted by the Aztecs who thought he was their God, Quetzalcoatl, who was prophesied years earlier as coming to arrive in 1519, the same year Cortez landed. He would have appeared as such to these people, who saw this grand figure emerge from the seas on massive wooden vessels, riding upon horses that looked like terrifying beasts that have been subdued. Their armor glistened in the hot son, while their rifles, proved magical because one could not see the bullet cut through the air as arrows did. They were treated to feasts and worship, but little did their leader, Montezuma, and his people know, was that this would soon all come to an end.
Cortez saw the vast amounts of gold in their capital of Tenochtitlan, and figured that there must be more. This is the fatal error accomplished by every explorer whom Spain sent to the “New World”, with a seal of their kingdom in one hand, and a bible in the other. There was an undying thirst for gold and riches, and these evil Aztecs had to be hiding it somewhere. Soon warfare ravaged the land, as Cortez and his men were able to get rival tribes to join them in conquering the mighty empire even while being vastly outnumbered.
There are images, carved by the artists and chroniclers at the time, available in the public record for viewing—they show the Spanish soldiers cutting off the hands of feet of natives who did not comply with their rule, or religion, something that afflicted their peoples like a disease, known then, like today, as Catholicism. The natives who said no gold existed would have a limb cut off until they decided to save what was left of their bodies by lying to say that gold did exist. When no gold was found, because there was no gold in actuality, the next body part cut off would be the head. These people, who met the fate of death, were the lucky ones. The rest were starved to within an inch of their lives and enslaved, and either kept in Mexico or sent back to Spain and paraded naked and in chains, through the streets, as wealthy aristocrats gazed upon these disgusting heathens.
Religion is as much to blame as the quest for gold is. These natives, all their lives, believed in one set of ideas, and when the Spanish came that had to end. Convert or die was the choice they were given, and some were still killed for the sport of it. Religion, namely Christianity, has been responsible for more deaths in recorded history than wars fought over anything else, as well as plagues and famines. While the Inquisition began in Europe with innocent people being burned alive because they were thought to be in league with the devil (actually, it was more because the Church wanted to acquire their land and money after their fatal cleansing by fire), there was a genocide in the Americas. Unsupervised and encouraged brutality was the recipe for disaster. The same exact results were accomplished by Francisco Pizarro in Peru, when he subdued the Incan civilization for much of the same reasons.
While Columbus incited this genocide, his followers, Cortez in particular, became the Adolf Hitler’s of the Americas, for they both shared one thing in common: the destruction of an entire race of people. The similarities between the two are startling, so as a nation, or perhaps the world even, we can either adopt a holiday for Hitler and celebrate the Holocaust as a day of happiness and reverence, or we can abolish this atrocity to education, this exalted ignorance, by ridding ourselves of this blasphemous excuse of a holiday. It cannot be picked and chosen which evil throughout history is re-written and romanticized for the sake of being able to teach our children something in school. The truth is there, right in front of our very eyes, but as they say, “The eye sees what it chooses to see.” Do the research; “discover” for yourself, because the lies have to end. When Columbus Day comes around this year, and the same sing-song ridiculousness occurs, what will your eyes see?